Summer difficulties on high-power computations activities

Our PRACE DECI project finished in May 2023.
Our IT4I-OPEN project is finishing on July 23rd 2023.
Next call would provide computational time from end September 2023.
Our main bridge ELI beamlines is no longer able to cover up due to technical issues.

Any solution for bridging this difficult period is welcome.

Edit: we are in discussion with ELI beamlines to try getting computer time there.

Edit2: project to IT4I has been submitted in collaboration with Max Born Institute and with FemtoST (Besançon, France) and should provide super-computing time for the end of September.

Funding of the group for July 1st – Dec 31st 2023

From July 1st, the group of Ultrafast Photonics is funded by the Center of Excellent – Teaming Project of HiLASE Centre, until end of Dec 2023. After that date, FTEs of the group will decrease from 2.15 to 0.7 based on institutional funds. In the context of decrease of national budget investment into research by 50% in 2023 and 10% in 2024 (while cumulated inflation on the period 2017-2023 has been of 50%), the future of the research group has to rely on multiple applications for public funding and on attracting funds from private sector as well.

The group is open to any proposition that would improve conditions of work. Spinning-off for several activities is envisioned (e.g., nanostructuring, predictions for light-matter interaction, high-power computation).

PhD student Andrés I. Bertoni was hosted for 2 months thanks to Marie Curie networking action “ATLANTIC”

A PhD student from University of Cuyo (Mendoza, Argentina) was hosted 2 months by the HiLASE Centre, Prague, thanks to the Marie Curie networking action “Research and Innovation Staff Exchange” named “ATLANTIC”.

Andres was hosted in the group of “Ultrafast Photonics” of HiLASE and worked on the first-principle optical response of solids. It was a great opportunity to exchange with students from the Czech Republic and to visit the laboratory of assoc. prof. Kovaricek (University of Chemical Technologies).

Andrés plans to join for a second trip this winter, shortly before the end of the “ATLANTIC” project.

T. Derrien attended the “Frontiers in Excited State Electronic Structure Methods” ICTP workshop in Trieste

Dr. Thibault J.-Y. Derrien, the Leader of the Group of Ultrafast Photonics (Department of Scientific Laser Applications)attended the “Workshop on Frontiers in Excited State Electronic Structure Methods: from Spectroscopy to Photochemistry”, held at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste (Italy) from May 16th to May 19th. The workshop gathered the researchers of the field of the first-principle modeling chemistry community.

Dr. Derrien presented results of his group on the excitation of solids upon excitation by intense laser light, developed in the context of the WP1-WP2 of the project BIATRI: No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000445 and WP3-WP5 of Marie Curie RISE ATLANTIC project No. 823897 (

The Workshop provided an excellent opportunity to meet several members of the theoretical network in the frames of the project “ATLANTIC” of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) (Horizon 2020) who also attended the workshop:

– Dr. Carlos Bustamante (now hosted by Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg),
– Prof. Cristian Sanchez (University of Cuyo, Argentina) and his PhD student Andrés I. Bertoni.
– Prof. Damian Scherliz (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina),
– Prof. Jorge Kohanoff (Queen’s University of Belfast, North Ireland, and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain).

The disruption of public research under war in Ukrain context

Inflation in the Czech Republic between 2017 and 2023 has increased from 2% to 16.3% year to year [1,2]. In average, if one wins/pays 100 Kc in 2017, an equivalent value in 2023 should be 148 Kc, mostly due to debt induced by COVID and to inflation induced by war in Ukraine. Previsions for next year run around some predicted return to 2% [2].

Situation would have been fine if salaries would have followed this major trend. But they didn’t follow in the public sector, while they were increased in the private sector.

This is suggested by conjunction of two indicators. The average salary in the Czech Republic in that period did increase by 27.8% [3], and in this inflating context, the annual budget for the Institute of Physics by the Academy of Sciences has been … reduced by 43% between 2022 and 2023 [4].

In view of adapting to this problematic situation, the proposed alternative should be to apply for funding through European and national projects, but the success rate of these is close to 10% overall. One can plan to write 10 of them per year (writing 1 project takes 250h of work for 1 person) – but deploying such amount of energy is not given to all.

An alternative is to capitalize on the previously patented technologies. Or to reshape the developed competences as a service, and to sell it to whom would be interested.

Science and technology in the public sector seem to become less and less sustainable in the Czech Republic. Setting the strategy to fund permanent positions of public sector on management costs of projects brought by motivated scientists should not be considered as a sustainable scheme, since the funds invested in training people are big. The developed competences and know-how cannot be thrown away from the Czech Republic like that. It must be re-invested. Solutions must be proposed, such as creating a private activity from the developed skills. Given the rate of the inflation, this appears to be a rather urgent measure so that salaries can from now on be indexed on inflation, an expected measure that could help the life of many workers.





The book of “Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring” (Springer) has now been published

The book of “Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring” (Springer) is now available for purchase. The book is composed of 3 parts:

  • Fundamentals Processes
  • Concepts of Extreme Nanostructuring
  • Applications

We are delighted to have contributed to it with the large community of laser processing of solids.

Our chapter is introducing the 3 volumes and provides an overview of physical and chemical phenomena taking place during the laser-matter interaction, complemented with understanding gained from quantum ab-initio approaches employed and developed in the group of Ultrafast Photonics.

Visit from Prof. Cristian Sanchez

The department of Scientific Laser Applications (SLA) is hosting prof. Cristian Sanchez for 2 months, thanks to the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) program “ATLANTIC”.

The stay started with a tour of the femtosecond laboratory of prof. Bulgakova and with first scientific discussions with the group of Ultrafast Photonics led by T. Derrien.

T. Derrien gave an invited seminar at the University of Chemical Technologies on April 26th 2023

T. Derrien, leader of the group of Ultrafast Photonics, was invited by assoc. prof. Petr Kovaricek from the University of Chemical Technologies (UCT Prague), to give a 45 min lecture on the physics of polaritons in light-matter interaction, both using classical and quantum approaches.

In this occasion, a PhD student from University of Cuyo (Mendoza, Argentina), Andres Bertoni, has visited the laboratory of assoc. prof. Petr Kovaricek. The stay of Lic. Andres Bertoni at the HiLASE Centre is funded by the Marie Curie RISE “ATLANTIC” project, that supports academic exchanges between 10 institutions in the world.

Novel materials for plasmonics: our predictions have contributed to the development of a new microscope

Classes of materials that are able to support surface plasmon polaritons has been historically narrow. By experience, researchers and engineers had rather been investing in heterostructures that can carry plasmon polaritons on long distances (using gold, silver, platinum, aluminum, …).

In 2016, we published a study that proposed a new class of materials that support lossy modes of surface electromagnetic wave propagation (plasmon polaritons) [1]. In this study, the particular case of Nb was identified as one of the most borderline materials that should be supporting the effect upon visible light.

A new study just appeared [2], that realizes a microscope using Nb contacts, a choice that challenges our theory [1]. In their study [2], the authors have developed a Raman microscope using the material that, according to our theory, should be supporting plasmon polaritons, while established theories had rejected it.

This realization opens a second field of applications for our “extended plasmonic” theory, that already demonstrated its use in increasing the regularity of light-induced nanostructures [3], a work that has generated a Top1% highly-cited publication in Scientific Reports, and a European patent [4] for covering metals using highly regular nanostructures at industrially competitive production velocities.

This new success is a great demonstration of the possibilities offered by bridging fundamental knowledge with novel innovative fields of nano-photonics, and of the importance of developing basic theory for enabling new innovations.

Another envisioned application can be a guided choice of materials for miniaturization of photonic components in integrated circuits.

[1] Derrien, T. J.-Y.; Krüger, J. & Bonse, J. Properties of surface plasmon polaritons on lossy materials: lifetimes, periods and excitation conditions. Journal of Optics, 18, 115007 (2016)
[2] F. Telesio, F. Mezzadri, M. Serrano-Ruiz, M. Peruzzini, F. Bisio, S. Heum, F. Fabbri, Propagation of Visible Light in Nanostructured Niobium Stripes Embedded in a Dielectric Polymer, Materials for Quantum Technology, 2, 045003 (2022).
[3] Gnilitskyi, I.; Derrien, T. J.-Y.; Levy, Y.; Bulgakova, N. M.; Mocek, T. & Orazi, L. High-speed manufacturing of highly regular femtosecond laser-induced periodic surface structures: physical origin of regularity. Scientific reports, 7, 8485 (2017)
[4] Gnilitskyi, I.; Orazi, L.; Derrien, T. J.-Y.; Bulgakova, N. M. & Mocek, T. Method and system of ultrafast laser writing of highly-regular periodic structures, European Patent Office, No. WO18010707, 2016.